Film review: Fantastic beasts and where to find them

An enchanting look into the magical world of Harry Potter outside of Hogwarts.

By Julia M.

After the release of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hollows – Part 2 in 2011, it was believed that the work of J.K. Rowling was completed. After seven books and eight motion pictures, Rowling, along with the director of the final four Harry Potter movies, David Yates, have hit back with a prequel to the Harry Potter movies. It is the first time that the movie isn’t based on a novel but rather on a screenplay, the first of a five-part-series, written by J.K. Rowling. It can be seen as an expansion of the magical world of Harry Potter set in a different time and place, introducing a different aspect of the wizarding world.

The film is set in 1920’s New York and tells the story of young animal and creature enthusiast Newt Scamander, played by Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne, who is visiting New York for the first time to return a mythical beast to its native land and explore the indigenous creatures and wild life of the New World. The movie opens with the arrival of Newt Scamander in New York accompanied by his suitcase, in which he is hiding magical and dangerous creatures he has caught on his travels, such as a Niffler which is a mole-like animal that is attracted to precious metals. Such animals are strictly forbidden in America as wizards live side by side with No-Majs (which is the name given to Muggles in America) and are afraid of being revealed by them. After the Niffler escapes from Scamander’s suitcase, he causes great chaos in the city by trying to steal jewellery. As Newt attempts to catch the Niffler, he meets No-Maj Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) and accidently swaps suitcases. Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), who works for the American equivalent of the Ministry of Magic, becomes curious about Newt, arrests him for not being a registered wizard and takes him to the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA). The president of MACUSA (Zoe Kravitz), however, is much more concerned about an unknown power, in the form of a black and dangerous whirlwind which has been causing great damage to the city, than Newt Scamander.

As already mentioned, “Fantastic Beasts” is based directly on a screenplay and is not adapted from a novel; however, it is inspired by a 61-page reference book which was released in 2001. This book shows and describes the different magical creatures Newt Scamander has discovered on his travels around the globe. It is those magical creatures which impress the audience and steal the show from the actors. For example, the cheeky Niffler or the hippo-like Erumpent, which wants to mate with Kowalski after a pheromone misfortune, cause hilarious and ridiculous moments of fun for the audience to enjoy in numerous scenes. The movie gives a good insight into the world of wizards outside of Hogwarts as we know it and takes the audience to a new time and place which makes it very interesting. It also incorporates various aspects and small details from the Harry Potter books, which had been left out from the movies up to now, which is sure to appeal to and win over the die-hard Harry Potter fans. However, it falls short of connecting with the characters on an emotional level compared to the original characters in the Harry Potter movies as it takes on a new format moving away from the development of a group of characters and their relationships throughout school time to a more stand-alone adventure taking place over a much shorter period of time than a full school year.

In conclusion, “Fantastic Beasts” offers a variety of serious, dark, light-hearted and also romantic scenes mixed together with extraordinary creatures of the movie and a very strong supporting cast, including major stars Colin Farell and Johnny Depp, creating a platform for the next movies by peeking the curiosity of the viewer with another side of this magical wizarding world.





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